Colin Montgomerie, the seven-time Volvo Order of Merit winner, will make his first visit to the State of Qatar this week for the Qatar Masters at the superb Doha Golf Club. The Scot is relishing the challenge of playing the Doha course where two of his fellow countrymen, Andrew Coltart and Paul Lawrie, have won in the past.
This will be the fifth edition of the tournament, which this year carries a prize fund of $1.5 million - double the 2001 figure - and has attracted a world class field in Darren Clarke, 1999 champion Lawrie, Montgomerie, Volvo PGA Champion Andrew Oldcorn, nine-time Major Champion Gary Player and 1991 Masters Tournament winner Ian Woosnam.
Clarke and Montgomerie have both elected to prepare for their bid to win The Players Championship in the United States by honing their games at Doha while Player, the winner of nine Major Championships in a remarkable career, is paying his first visit to a course rated as one of the finest on The European Tour International Schedule.
The two European Ryder Cup players will both be making the short hop from the Dubai Desert Classic to try to join Coltart, defending champion Tony Johnstone, Lawrie and Rolf Muntz as holders of the glittering Mother of Pearl Trophy awarded to the winner.
For Clarke, it will mean a return for the first time since he competed in the inaugural tournament in 1998 where he finished tied for ninth place, seven shots adrift of the eventual champion, Coltart.
"I am very much looking forward to returning to Qatar and competing in the 2002 Qatar Masters," said Clarke. "I last played there four years ago and will be intrigued to see how the course has developed since then.
"I thoroughly enjoy competing across the world and, having won in both Japan and South Africa last year as well as in Europe, I hope I can add to my collection of titles with victory at Doha Golf Club."
Player, an Honorary Member of The European Tour, commented: "I am delighted to be invited to the Qatar Masters and look forward with great anticipation to visiting this fascinating country for the first time. Visiting emerging golf destinations and making new friends is always exciting."
Hassan Al Nuaimi, President of the Qatar Golf Association, admitted he was thrilled at the prospect of Clarke, Montgomerie and Player teeing up at Doha Golf Club.
"We are pleased that players of Darren and Colin's ability have agreed to play in the 2002 Qatar Masters along with Gary Player, one of the true legends of golf.